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100 articles – ‘After three months, only 35 subscriptions for Newsday’s website’

With many major media companies now planning to build paywalls for their content, Kellie Mayo selects a cautionary tale about the challenges one newspaper has faced for inclusion in our list of the '100 articles every journalist should read about journalism'.

‘After three months, only 35 subscriptions for Newsday’s website’ by John Koblin. 

published in The New York Observer.  January 26, 2010 

Will you pay to read your news online once it’s no longer free?  It’s the question everyone in the media’s asking since Rupert Murdoch announced that News Corporation would soon put an end to the ‘philistine phase of the digital age’ and start charging for online content. 

Consumer behaviour is hard to predict, so that question won’t be properly answered until the pay walls are erected. In the meantime, those seeking answers might be interested in this article on one of the first experiments of its type involving a large daily non-financial newspaper in the United States.

Here  The New York Observer outlines what can only be described as the failed transition from free to paid content of the big Long Island daily, Newsday. Three months after the pay wall went up Newsday’s website managed to attract only 35 new subscribers. 

With the future of journalism tied to the business models that media companies adopt, the Newsday experience makes for sobering reading along with recent surveys that have found most consumers don’t intend to pay for online content. While Newsday’s owners sought to put a positive spin on the figures in their explanations, the paper has shed jobs and asked journalists to take a pay cut.

Kellie Mayo has been the Executive Producer of ABC 1’s weekly political review program ‘Insiders’ since 2006 and has worked as a radio and television journalist for the ABC’s News and Current Affairs division in Melbourne since 1995. She is also a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University. 
More on our ‘100 articles every jouranlist should read about journalism’ project, including details of how to contribute can be found here. To read more articles by John Koblin, go here.

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